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Prince George’s First Avenue supportive housing project to be first of its kind in the north

The proposed project at NR Motors will provide housing and health care services all under one roof

First Avenue may eventually be home to Prince George’s first all-in-one supportive housing development.

B.C. Housing, the City of Prince George, and Northern Health are all collaborating on an innovative project to provide new affordable housing and health-care services under one roof for people experiences homelessness, mental health, and addictions issues.

The proposed mixed-use development would be located on First Avenue at the current location of NR Motors.

IMG_4239Signage at the info session explaining the difference between shelters and supportive housing. (via Hanna Petersen)
“This is one of the first of its kind in the north,” says Malachy Tohill, B.C. Housing’s regional director, ahead of the project's Sept. 11 public information session at the Prince George Civic Centre.

Although the project is still in early stages, the three partners are currently seeking feedback from the public to ensure its success.

“We are really excited to be part of this,” adds Tohill. “This is great for Prince George. We are really trying to address some of the issues downtown, those suffering from mental health and addiction issues and a way to give them a better quality of life and move them on.”

The first phase would include approximately 50 supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness and a second phase would include 50 affordable rental homes for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families.

“What we do know is that when we move people from the street into their own housing and create a safe, stable environment that is the first step for people to be able to move on with a better quality of life and to be able to access supports,” says Tohill.

For the first 50 units, B.C Housing would provide 24/7 staffing along with a meal program and a ground floor healthcare space to be accessible to both residents and the public.

Northern Health, in partnership with other health services organizations, would be responsible for overseeing these units and providing primary care, harm reduction, and specialized mental health and substance-use services.

“This was done from a health services review and identified as the best way to provide services here in Prince George to this target population for Prince George,” says Tohill.

The project is currently at the beginning stages and will now require an Official Community Plan amendment and rezoning, and be subject to the standard public hearing process.

City Manager Kathleen Soltis says the NR Motors location was one of the only sites available that was large enough to accommodate the two phases of the project along with the space needed for the additional health supports.

“This is one of the few sites that we found, if perhaps the only, that is big enough and centrally located enough to provide for the needs that we want to have on the site,” says Soltis. “In our view, the site is close to the services that are downtown but it’s not in the midst of downtown. It’s going to be a lovely site. In addition to having the health supports and the housing, It’s going to be beautiful. It’s going to be well maintained and have lovely landscaping.”

Soltis says the project may be ready for the public hearing process by the end of the year.

The public info session takes place tonight (Sept. 11) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre in Room 101.

You can also find out more information online.


Hanna Petersen

About the Author: Hanna Petersen

Born and raised in Prince George, Hanna Petersen is a graduate of UNBC. She then abandoned her hometown for the East Coast, graduating with a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in the process.
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